Various online daters were the victims of a stone cold scammer who pocketed $2.1 million.
According to USA Today, a New Jersey man named Rubbin Sarpong allegedly conspired to scam more than 30 people out of money using false U.S. military identities. He appeared in Camden federal court last Wednesday on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.
Court documents say that from January 2016 to September 2019, Sarpong and several co-conspirators — many who live in Ghana — reportedly started dating profiles on a number of sites using fake or stolen identities. They posed as U.S. military personnel stationed overseas who needed non-existent gold bars shipped to a U.S. location. Their story explained that military personnel in Syria were awarded in gold bars.
“They contacted victims through the dating websites and then pretended to strike up a romantic relationship with them, wooing them with words of love,” reads the criminal complaint.
In order to ship the nonexistent gold bars, the conspirators asked their newly wooed lovers for money and they explained that they would reimburse the victims once the gold bars arrived in the U.S.
In one instance, a conspirator insisted that he was a U.S. soldier stationed in Syria who had secured bars worth $12 million and needed assistance bringing them over. He sent a woman a false airway bill showing that two trunks with “family treasure” would be sent to her. He included a fake United Nations Identity Card that identified him as a UN delivery agent and an Israeli citizen.
The woman wired him more than $93,000 and they had plans to rendezvous at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport on June 13, 2018. The following day, she died by suicide.
Investigators say that Sarpong and his accomplices used various email accounts and Voice Over Internet protocol phone numbers to communicate with victims and tell them where to wire money. Every now and then, victims would also send money via personal and cashier’s checks.
After payments were received, the funds were withdrawn in cash, wired to other domestic bank accounts and wired to conspirators in Ghana.
The ultimate scam.
Sarpong was even bold enough to flaunt his earnings on social media, according to authorities. He was found posting picture of himself with large wads of cash, high-end cars and expensive jewelry. At one point in March 2017, he even posted a photo of himself lounging in a car with a stack of money up to his ear like a cellphone with the caption that read “WakeUp With 100k… One Time. Making A phone Call To Let My Bank Know Am Coming.”
He also posted a photo of himself with an unidentified male back in December 2018, writing “BigBusiness Done…Now We Waiting For The Checks To Clear,” according to authorities.
Sarpong reportedly received $823,386 throughout the whole scheme. Now, he faces a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison, according to Carpenito.